Remember that track “Meteor Hammer” from the Wu-Tang compilation Legendary Weapons? Ghostface Killah, the Wu host and veteran of the track, performed a very ordinary verse, only to be upstaged by his two lesser known guests, Action Bronson and Termanology. In no way did this upset me as a listener. It’s only natural for the guests to try hard to prove their worth while the host sits comfortably on a padded verse. This essentially describes Curren$y’s New Jet City.
Curren$y is as high and drawled out as ever, and he sounds very much like himself on this mixtape, but what really draw’s the listener’s attention this time around is the all star lineup of a guest spots from every rapper that fits the music. In this case, Rick Ross, Juicy J, Wiz, Jadakiss, Styles P, and more. From the lineup, you’d assume the recording of this mixtape took place atop a life-sized mountain of cocaine in a luxury car with suicide doors. Yet, Curren$y’s just-woke-up-and-smoked flow most definitely provides the backbone to the tape, as it usually does.
New Jet City also solidifies Curren$y’s ability to rap on commercial rap beats, without sacrificing his voice as a rapper. He meets Lex Luger halfway on the way to wonderfully ignant raps on “Choosin” with Rick Ross and Wiz Khalifa. Curren$y gives a satisfying verse, it’s pleasing to hear him over this kind of aggressive new era rap beats sounding like the same old Spitta with a new spin. However, the song progresses into more natural and comfortable sounding verses. Next up is Wiz, who has been riding the boundary between stoner raps and trap inspired Lex Luger type beats for years now. Rick Ross sounds completely organic as he enters the track after a quotable chorus with a catchy little synth pattern.
As most do on Lex Luger beats, Curren$y and Wiz leave plenty of room between lines to slow the track down and mesh with the beat more, Ross generally follows this style as well. Yet, he fills the most space out of the three and sounds the best, which just goes to show he knows how to spit on a track like “Choosin”. Ross raps “MCM on my luggage, Reebok makin me butter, be hittin cuban cigars, bombaclot, he think he does this. Double M, we the hottest on the fuckin turf, I’m going straight to heaven, crib built like a church”. While I assume the Catholic church just vomited as a whole at the idea of Rick Ross going to heaven, he’d get in if his access was based on this verse alone. The other Lex Luger beat on NJC is “Coolie in the Cut”. If you like “Choosin” you’ll adore “Coolie”. All of the signatures of a Lex Luger beat are in there, and Spitta and Trademark wreck the track.
“Clear”, featuring Jadakiss and produced by Statik Selektah, is quintessential Curren$y. Smooooooth, and mysterious, like a private detective will somehow burst out of my speakers, smoking a pipe, trying to solve the case of the missing dame. With whining saxophone, sly bass, and occasional guitar riffs, Statik provides an ideal beat for Curren$y to fill the space. Jadakiss leaves a bit too much space open, sounding as though he might have had the verse lying around and matched it to the existing beat without writing to the song itself.
A favorite is most definitely “Three 60” with Juicy J and produced by Cardo. The track starts harped out with nice jazzy snare rolls. I figured I had the track pegged, before the 80s hip hop sounds entered: boings, echoed claps, heavy 808 bass, and then 2013 enters with a hi-pitched hi-hat and the drum line-type snare that populates tracks produced by Lex Luger, Cardo, and other producers that fit into the same realm. The beat feels merry and celestial, like good things are happening around Spitta and Juicy J.
Juicy raps lyrics that I embarrassingly repeat for my friends like: “Bitch I shine like a UV ray/And I get head like a new toupe.” Meanwhile, Curren$y provides even less thoughtful lines like “I’m never stressed, never let em see me sweat/Asking who designed me sweats, examine me like an exhibit.” Luckily, the lyrics are easy to ignore, the Spitta and Juicy’s flows and the beat are easy to absorb. Another standout is the Dilla-influenced “Living for the City”, which features only Curren$y over a bluesy piano-dominated beat.
Not all of the guest verses are winners, though, and several are less than memorable. For example, I forgot French Montana’s verse on “These Bitches” before it was even over. Styles P appears on “Drive” alongside Spitta and Young Roddy, and while Styles most certainly sounds the coolest of the three, there is nothing quotable from anyone on the track. And aside from a few ladies-aimed tracks—“Purple Haze” with Lloyd and Trinidad James for one—the mixtape is uncharacteristically macho. Few females appear and the ones that do are sampled. It’s not Curren$y’s style to jump on a love song with a female singer, but it wouldn’t have hurt to give it a shot while employing so many guests.
Dig it, or don’t, New Jet City is a refreshing take on Curren$y’s style and it most definitely provided the spark needed to awaken from a Curren$y slumber. With that in mind, it’s not a good look to get outshined by guests. It’s a blessing and a curse. The guests add strength to the mixtape and give it mass appeal, but they detract from Curren$y himself.